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Within a company communication can be achieved in different ways. The two basic ones are oral communication and written communication. By oral communication we mean any form of communication which takes the form of spoken words or gestures. By written communication we mean any piece of writing used in order to communicate, in this case faxes, memos, notices, messages, reports, business letters. This chapter will insist on some of these means of communication, the rest being covered in the following chapters.

In the area of oral communication one refers mainly to direct verbal contact, premeditated or unpremeditated, at the office, during meetings, presentations, negotiations, etc. However, people communicate within the company or with other companies very often by PHONE.


You want to phone someone in a company. You pick up the phone. You hear the dialing tone and dial the number on the keypad. You don’t know the person’s direct line number, so you dial the number of the company’s switchboard. One of these things happens:

  1. The number rings, but no one answers.
  2. You hear the engaged tone/busy tone because the other person is already talking on the phone. You hang up and try again later.
  3. You get through, but not to the number you wanted. The person who answers says you’ve got the wrong number.
  4. The operator answers. You ask for the extension of the person you want to speak to.
  5. You are put through to the wrong extension. The person offers to transfer you to the right extension, but you are cut off – the call ends.
  6. The person you want to talk to is not at their desk and you leave a message at their voicemail. You ask them to call you back or to return your call.

( adapted from Business Vocabulary in Use by Bill Mascull )


  1. You are trying to phone Amanda Rear, who works for a large company. Match your possible reactions to the things described above. One of the things is used twice.
  1. That’s strange. The switchboard isn’t big enough to handle all the calls they get.
  2. That’s ridiculous. A company with 400 employees and no one answers the phone.
  3. I ask for Amanda Rear and they put me through to Amanda Reese!
  4. Amanda seems to spend all day on the phone. Her line’s always busy.
  5. That’s strange. I’m sure I dialed the right number.
  6. Oh no, I hate this, I’d better leave a message.
  7. They never seem to be able to find the extension number!
  1. Amanda Rear is trying to phone George Dean. Put the conversation into a logical order.
  1. Amanda: Good morning. Can I speak to George Dean please?
  2. Amanda: Is that George Dean?
  3. Amanda: No, I’m afraid I don’t.
  4. Amanda: Thanks. Oh no, I’ve been cut off.
  5. Switchboard operator: Do you know the extension?
  6. Switchboard operator: Sorry to keep you waiting…I’m putting you through.
  7. John Dean: Dean.
  8. John Dean: No, this is John Dean. You’ve come through to Accounts. I’ll try to transfer you back to the switchboard.
  1. Correct the mistakes in Amanda’s voicemail message.

Hi, George, this is Amanda calling out of Medstar branch in Salzburg. It’s very difficult to get hold to you. I phoned to you earlier, but your telephone central placed me through to the bad telephone. Anyway, I’m calling to you to discuss the contract we were talking about in Frankfurt. I’ll call further later or perhaps you’d like to ring to me here in Salzburg on 0048327891357. Bye for now.



One of the most common forms of business communication between members of the same organisation is the memo. It usually focuses on one piece of information and often requests action to be taken. It may be sent to a single person or a group of people.

There are many different techniques used in memo writing, but several basic rules should always be applied:

-          since memos are a little less formal than business letters, it is best to use simple language and a neutral tone.

-          Keep your memo clear, use short, simple sentences

-          A memo should not be longer then one page

-          The opening and closing formula can be more direct and less formal than in a letter.


Medstar is going to organize a regional conference for European medicine producers in order to enlarge its market and to strengthen links with new and old partners.

Read the memo from the Managing Director to the Head of the PR department and match the parts of the memo (1-6) with the descriptions (a-f)

DATE              19th May (1)

TO                   Amanda Rear, Head of PR department (2)

FROM             David Graham, Managing Director

SUBJECT        Regional conference  (3)

As you know, our company is organizing this year’s regional conference. I would like you to take care of the most important details of this event. (4)

Could you please get back to me about the following:

-          aprox. number of participants

-          name of the hotel we’ll be using, number of rooms needed, capacity of conference room, other details

-          names of the people you would like to help you organizing this event (5)

We haven’t much time, so please do this as soon as possible and contact me when you’re ready. (6)


    1. The “body” of the memo
    2. A short heading telling you what the memo is about
    3. When the memo is sent
    4. The conclusion of the memo, which often recommends a course of action
    5. Name of the person to whom the memo is sent
    6. A brief introduction to the memo giving the most important information.


You are Amanda Rear. Write a memo to your boss answering to his questions and presenting your proposals and demands.

FAXES resemble memos a lot, only that they may include other information as well. Its format is almost identical to the memo, but it also includes technical details specific to this means of sending information.



Box 1212, Sydney, Australia

Tel: 61 2 329 9220

Fax: 61 2 329 9221

Date: 22 November                  To fax number: +1 213 976 3421

To: Jaime Vasconcelos             From: Anna Friedman

Number of pages including this cover sheet: 31

Dear Jaime,

It was good to hear from you again. The following pages give details of the latest additions to our range. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards,

Anna Friedman

This fax may contain confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, advise the sender and destroy this document.

If you do not receive all the pages or if any pages are illegible, please phone +61 2 329 9220 immediately.


1. a. Fill in the gaps in the text with the sentences below it:

                                                A bright future for fax

          Fax has undoubtedly been the star of the office equipment market in the 1980s, outpacing all comers in the last five years. Latest figures reveal that machine sales have now gone through the 640, 000 mark and look set to remain buoyant for the year. (1) Recent research has shown that the market for fax machines is far from saturated. (2) These companies are missing out on many opportunities that eager competitors will be happy to capitalise on. (3)


            In the coming years, businesses who rely on the more traditional forms of international communication such as telephone and telex, may find themselves unable to compete without a fax. (4) Diagrams, drawings and charts can easily and quickly be communicated to offices across Europe and, indeed around the world. This global capacity was recently demonstrated in one of the world’s most hostile working conditions. The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is 10, 000 miles from the UK and operates five research bases studying the physical structure and ecology of the frozen continent. (5) Having previously relied on interference-prone radio, or telex with all the restrictions of the written word, the new machines were a revolution. Where messages and information previously took a minimum of 72 hours – or up to a week – to be transmitted and answered using radio and telex relay systems, fax correspondence now takes place daily in all weather conditions, instantaneously.

            The biggest advantage is ease of use. (6)

            Constant innovation has kept facsimile in the news, with the larger companies now regarding fax as an essential and indispensable everyday business tool. (7)

            Says Lester Davis, chairman of the BFICC, “Smaller companies can enjoy a successful relationship with their fax machine based on a careful examination of their needs. Buying a “cheap”, compact “low end” machine could be a false economy for any company that anticipates even a moderate amount of traffic. It is important to do some thinking about what your needs are now – and then what you are likely to be doing a year from now to clarify the features you will need.” 

Current machines offer many impressive ways for companies to save time and money. (8) Instead of paying long distance charges from a central office, companies can broadcast to other sites for onward transmission at cheaper local rates. Memory is useful for transmissions out of hours and for continued reception when out of paper. (9) In addition, use of the transmit memory can allow the same document to be sent to several users without rescanning the original, so simplifying the sending operation. Another feature, polling, also allows companies to achieve cost-savings on transmission times. By taking advantage of cheaper telephone rates, information can be received at the users’ convenience – maybe out of office hours. This method of operation can be particularly useful at the end of the day when a number of machines send in to the head office. Rather than relying on staggering the transmission, the call initiative is given to the receiver to make the connection when it is ready.

The future for fax is faster communication on public telephone networks, with more efficient transmission and reduced call charges. Page transmission times continue to reduce and clarity has improved with the continued growth of CCITT – approved ECM (Error Correction Mode). (10)

The office-in-the-car has arrived, with mobile fax. Salesmen, mobile engineers, managing directors and company chairmen will no longer have to make daily visits to their offices to update themselves on important issues or initiate major decisions. (11)


1.      Relay broadcasting, for instance, allows a document to be transmitted to many locations in one operation, reducing telephone costs and saving operator time.

2.      In 1989 it received two fax machines for its Halley Base site.

3.      However, in a business world dominated by the need for instant information and response to management decisions, can smaller businesses realistically survive without a fax?

4.      Vital information such as sales and financial reports, orders and confirmations and diagrams can be quickly and easily faxed through to their vehicles at the touch of a button.

5.      However, with a wide variety of fully featured machines on the market, smaller companies are now able to exploit the benefits of fax at prices they can realistically afford.

6.      Indeed, it is estimated that only 25% of the potential market is currently using fax, with many small and medium-size companies without a dedicated fax machine or access to a bureau.

7.      These missed opportunities may, in some cases, mean the difference between sink and swim.

8.      Any member of the base staff can use the fax machine to send detailed and complicated information back to the BAS headquarters in Cambridge, with only a few minutes instruction.

9.      Companies can achieve real savings in operator time and fax paper costs with this facility, because the machine overcomes the communications problems which cause incomplete or unacceptable messages, and hence the need for operator time in dealing with retransmission and line queries.

10.  With this facility messages can be printed out when the paper is refilled and staff do not have to maintain a constant vigil over the fax machine.

11.  Not only is it cheaper and more cost-effective to send documents by fax, but it is also not limited by the problems of language barriers.

b. Fill in the spaces with the words and expressions below the text:


            Another innovation likely to impact on the business environment is the inclusion in PCs of (1). This allows users to receive (2) directly from their PCs to receive-fax machines avoiding the need for intermediate paper print-outs. It is expected that this facility, (3) , will contribute in some way to the paperless office heralded over ten years ago, but will also increase the need for (4).

            It is also possible to see, in the not too distant future, (5) such as railway stations, airports, motorway service stations, etc; they may even appear in the high street. The infrastructure for this system is already in place with the public access telephone network and all that would be required is (6). Another symptom of the growth in facsimile is (7). Many people already (8), keeping in touch with their offices (9). Indeed, working from home is (10), complete with traffic jams and all.

            In fact, it is (11), there will be a major change in the hours people work, creating (12). As a result, many companies are expected to decentralise their offices to regional sites, (13) and making it easier for employees and customers to stay in communication.

            The future of fax for business looks bright. (14) will ensure that for the foreseeable future it will remain an indispensable business tool.

1.                  anticipated that as more and more people take to working from home;

2.                  the development of mobile capabilities and innovative technology;

3.                  a facsimile interface;

4.                  which will increase the number of fax transmissions;

5.                  bringing them nearer to their market places;

6.                  a welcome relief from the daily trek into the office

7.                  fax messages;

8.                  fax receiving units;

9.                  to connect up suitable “coinoperated” fax machines;

10.              a growth in the number of public fax booths at selected sites;

11.              the increase in the number of people working from home;

12.              a more flexible and leisure-oriented life-style;

13.              work from home;

14.              via fax machines, computer links and the telephone network;

2.          Match these terms with their definitions.

1)                  facsimile                                                           a)        a general change in the way people think or behave, which is happening at the moment;

2)                  to outpace                                                          b)       the registering of votes / opinions, as at an election;   

3)                  trend                                                                   c)      to modernize;

4)                  to overcome                                                        d)     a group of assistants to a manager, superintendent, or executive;

5)                  polling                                                                 e)     the chief administrative office of an organization;                                                                                                                                         

6)                  staff                                                                     f)     to get the better of in a conflict;

7)                  to compete                                                          g)      to surpass / to exceed;

8)                  headquarters                                                      h)       an exact copy of a manuscript or of a  document;

9)                  to sink                                                                 i)      to fall, drop or descend gradually;

10)              to update                                                             j)      to contend with another for supremacy, profit, etc. ;

3.        Chase the intruder:

0)         a.   fax                         b.   telex                       c.   telephone               d.   public

1)         a.   problem                 b.   query                     c.   issue                       d.   interface

2)         a.   information            b.   communication      c.   decision                 d.   transmission

3)         a.   diagrams                b.   button                    c.   drawings                d.   charts

4)         a.   tool                                    b.   price                      c.   cost                        d.   sale

5)         a.   growth                   b.   increase                 c.   rise                         d.   sink

6)         a.   allcomer                 b.   tool                        c.   machine                 d.   instrument

7)         a.   company                b.   bureau                   c.   office                     d.   salesman

8)         a.   to reduce                b.   to save                   c.   to sale                    d.   to decrease

9)         a.   way                        b.   method                  c.   means                    d.   trend

10)       a.   feature                    b.   line                                    c.   via                          d.   connection

4.    Find in the text the antonym for:

1)         to decrease       -           ………………..

2)         to regress         -           ………………..

3)         to be sure         -           ………………..

4)         to receive         -           ………………..

5)         to worsen         -           ………………..

6)         to forbid           -           ………………..

7)         branch             -           ………………..

8)         friendly            -           ………………..

9)         original            -           ………………..

10)       generally          -           ………………..

5.    Fill in the gaps with words from the text:

The businessmen of tomorrow will be able to improve their affairs by using the (1)…………… in the car. At the touch of a (2)……………, vital information such as (3)……………..and (4)……………..can be quickly and easily faxed through to their vehicles. What we call (5)……………….is possible thanks to the existence of the mobile fax. As for the vital transmissions, one can say that (6)………………….and (7)…………………are more important than the fax but the cost-savings prove that the fax continues to be a (8)…………………which allows smaller companies to (9)……………….with bigger ones. By using the fax, the (10)……………….of a company can save (11)………………….and (12)…………………and from this point of view it (13)………………..the other tools of transmission. One of the biggest (14)………………. is the relation between fax and computer that allows users to (15)………………..fax messages directly from their PCs to receive-fax machines. This thing will certainly………………..the number of fax transmissions and diagrams, (16)……………….., (17)…………………and (18)…………………….will surely be quickly transmitted from no matter how many branches of a company to its (19)………………….



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